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What You Need to Know About Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL)

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Essential Facts on Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) is cancer that affects the lymphatic system, which is part of the body’s immune system. It occurs when tumors develop from white blood cells called lymphocytes. Cancers can spread to the lymph nodes from different body parts, but only cancers originating in the lymph tissue are classified as lymphomas. NHL is more common than Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The two main lymphoma types are Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s (NHL). Hodgkin’s lymphoma is distinguished from NHL by the presence of a Reed-Sternberg cell, which is an atypical cell. This type of cell is only found in Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The treatment options for Hodgkin’s lymphoma and NHL are also very different.

What Are the Types of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

There are two main types of NHL, B-cell lymphoma and T-cell lymphoma, which are distinguished by the appearance of the cells under a microscope.

B-cell lymphomas are the most common type of NHL in the United States, accounting for an estimated 85 percent of cases, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

There are two main B-cell lymphomas: diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma. Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is the most common type, accounting for one-third of all cases. Follicular lymphoma is the second most common type, accounting for about one-fifth of all cases.

T-cell lymphomas are relatively rare in the United States, accounting for less than 15 percent of all lymphomas. Natural killer cells are even rarer, causing less than 1 percent of all lymphomas.

What Are the Symptoms of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

The most common symptoms of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are:

  • Night sweats
  • Rashes or skin lumps
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Itchy skin
  • Coughing

The B symptoms are a set of symptoms that are often seen in people with NHL and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. These symptoms can help doctors predict how severe the disease is and what the outlook is for the patient. The B symptoms include fever, night sweats, and a more than ten percent weight loss in six months. This is why it’s best to get in touch with your doctor if these symptoms persist.

What Are the Risks of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

There are various risk factors for NHL, but it’s possible to have none of them and still develop the disease. Also, multiple risk factors do not guarantee a person will get NHL.

Factors that increase your risk of developing NHL include:

  • If someone in your immediate family has had NHL, you are more likely to develop it yourself.
  • Being overweight or obese increases your risk of certain types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Some people who have breast implants may develop a type of cancerous cell growth in their breasts. This is a very rare occurrence.
  • People exposed to high radiation levels are more likely to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and other types of cancer. This is because radiation damages the cells in the body, which can lead to the development of cancer.
  • Certain medical conditions can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of developing NHL. These conditions include autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren’s disease, and celiac disease. Having HIV also increases the risk of developing certain types of NHL, including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.
  • Chronic infections are infections that never go away or that last for a very long time. These infections can cause the immune system to be constantly active, increasing a person’s risk of developing lymphoma.


Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the lymphocytes, which are a part of the immune system. NHL is typically diagnosed in adults, with the average age of diagnosis being 60 years old. There are many subtypes of NHL, which can be classified based on the type of lymphocyte involved, the disease’s stage, and cancer’s aggressiveness. Treatment for NHL may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy.

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